In this blog series, The Effects of COVID-19 on the Travel Industry, we take a closer look at five major sectors of the travel industry and explore current trends and impacts of the pandemic.

In our series, we’ll cover the effects of COVID-19 on:

After more than a decade of explosive growth and the emergence of many innovative startups, the travel industry faces one of the biggest challenges in its history. The global COVID-19 pandemic has devastated economies worldwide, hitting hospitality businesses, airlines, and transportation services particularly hard. Studies suggest the impact will be 9 times worse than 9/11.

The travel business sector is suffering a considerable decline, as companies have been forced to handle meetings through video conferencing. Many may choose to continue with remote communications and eliminate their business travel budgets. To adapt to the new normal,  companies are evaluating existing protocols, such as:

  • Traveler safety
  • Duty of care for employees
  • Policy compliance
  • Eliminating bypass and pre-trip approval

Global HOTEL Trends

Cost Savings

In the aftermath of the pandemic, several hotel chains have considered cutting back on average daily rates to capture market share as a means to recover from drastic losses. Reduced rates are accounted for lesser services and/or amenities available to reduce the risk of physical and/or social contact such as packed meals vs. meal buffets, closed or limited use of public facilities such as the pool, gym, etc.

Hotels invested mostly on marketing campaigns which demonstrates their safety and cleanliness protocols in an effort to bring back leisure and business travelers.


The hospitality industry has been at the forefront of a tech revolution during the last decade. Even though progress has been halted due to the pandemic, there are some exciting prospects ahead as the industry recovers, like the increased use of virtual reality (VR) technology to provide prospects with 360° views of facilities prior to booking. As well as this, dynamic pricing via artificial intelligence (AI) has been helping revenue managers with automated variable calculation to set rates. We have seen expanded use of robotic technology no only for concierge-like roles but also in housekeeping and luggage handling.

In Singapore, we are seeing the use of mobile applications, such as SafeEntry which uses a QR code when entering restaurants and hotels – the app creates a digital diary of visited locations which helps with contract tracing.

Pandemic Impacts

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the the hospitality industry. Social distancing has had a devastating effect on larger, upscale hotels that specialize in holding business conventions.

Research suggests that the US hotel industry’s recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until 2023 or later.

US hotel occupancy saw a slight uptick at the start of summer and Labor day weekend but forecasts indicate a 29% decline in annual hotel occupancy over the next 12 months with projected revenue loss of USD75B. And Booking Holdings (owns and Kayak) reported an average drop of 71% in the 1st half of 2020 while Expedia Group revenues drop 82% in Q2.

The hospitality industry has taken drastic measures to cope with the global pandemic. Hotel chains have created cleanliness councils and committees, and Airbnb’s CEO has urged hosts to adopt advanced hygiene measures, such as 24 hour waiting periods between occupants. The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) will also be issuing updated hygiene standards for its members.  Due to these new measures, an increasing number of hospitality businesses are now requiring the use of hospital-grade disinfectants.

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